Xanax: Risky on its Own, Deadly with Opioids and Alcohol

Published on August 2, 2019

Canaan, CT – As Xanax continues to be normalized in pop culture, Mountainside in Canaan, CT, reminds the public to consider the risks of this seemingly harmless anti-anxiety drug. The treatment center also urges the public to avoid using Xanax, a benzodiazepine, in combination with opioids or alcohol.

Xanax and other “benzos” – including Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin – are a class of sedative medications typically prescribed to relieve anxiety, treat muscle spasms, and reduce seizures. Also known by the generic name alprazolam, Xanax is the most extensively prescribed benzodiazepine across the nation, with 45 million alprazolam prescriptions dispensed in 2017.

For pop singer Justin Bieber and many others who have used Xanax frequently or in greater doses, the damaging effects of the drug outweigh its potential benefits. In a 2019 interview with Vogue, Bieber reflected, “Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing.”

Respiratory depression is common during a benzodiazepine overdose; benzos like Xanax suppress breathing. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against consuming them with opioids, alcohol, and other central nervous system depressants, as the combined effect of these substances can produce fatal consequences.

Taking opioids along with Xanax impairs cognitive function and increases the likelihood of suffering a lethal overdose. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the number of benzo overdose deaths rose from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017. For every year between 2012 and 2017, benzo overdose deaths involving opioids also steadily increased.